Published March 27, 2013
After winning Gold Division, Berkley baseball moves to OAA Blue
By Mike Moore firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Mike on Twitter.
BERKLEY — A year ago, they made a statement.
A year later, guys on the Berkley High baseball team want to make a “name for the program.”
“We don’t want people to think we are a team that can be looked past,” senior pitcher Sean Calender continued. “I think people expected us to do what we did last year, but now it’s about proving this program is for real.”
The Bears rolled to a 12-0 record in the Oakland Activities Association Gold Division, easily claiming the top spot.
By the time the spring was done, Berkley finished with a 22-10 overall record, losing to eventual state runner-up Warren De La Salle in a playoff opener.
The newest challenge for the Bears is the division they will call home.
“It’s huge to move,” Gruppen said of jumping to the OAA Blue this season. “We’re going to see some stronger arms every game. We’re going to face tougher lineups every game. It’s going to be a great challenge. But anytime you can challenge your team, I think it’s a good thing. We’re looking forward to it.”
The timing is perfect, too.
Berkley brought back eight varsity veterans, including seven starters, most of whom are seniors.
“To have that much experience and that many guys back is a huge advantage,” Calender said. “The older guys have a way to keep the younger guys on track, and know how to stay motivated and stay focused.”
“Having the ability to have that leadership and the concentration level that comes with so many veterans is huge,” Gruppen said. “We’re going to have the target on our back. Teams are going to want to beat the new guys in town.”
His team had only practiced indoors at press time, and Gruppen didn’t schedule any games until April 9, saying with a laugh “the weather never cooperates, so why bother?”
So he’ll have plenty of time, inside or out, to prepare for what he said is a very clear goal.
“We have to be on top of the league; that’s where the goals for the season start,” Gruppen said.
“The first thing we talk about is winning the Blue,” Calender said. “We’ll be the underdogs, so to speak, as the new team. But we have a lot to prove.”